Checkov, The Peasants Essay, Research Paper
Olga s Hope and Strength
Olga Tchikildeyeff is a very powerful character in Anton Chekov s The Peasants.
She is portrayed to have …old charm and pleasant smile… (Chekov 70). The life she
lives is strong and full of hope. She and the family in The Peasants go through many
hardships through the journey of this story. One thing remains constant and the same amid
all these problems: Olga s positive attitude. She seems to have an inside hope that is
un-matched by the rest of the characters in this story. It does not seem to matter what
place she is in, even the wretched Zhukovo village, or what happens to her and the family,
she still has a strength inside of her. The hope and strength she has comes from the
religion that is ever present in her life.
Not only is she strong she is devoted to her husband following him wherever he
wants to go when he is ill. The way Chekov describes the hometown village of Olga s
husband Nikolai makes it look very low class and poverty stricken. Olga does not let a low
class village get her down. When they first arrive she immediately spots the church and
says to her husband It s a fine place, your village…[Then to God] What freedom, Lord!
(Chekov 46). She is very uplifting and not letting the village or a small dwelling bring her
down. The power of God in her life is fully shown through the whole story. It is only
really acknowledged a couple times but many people see the faith she has. She does not
enjoy many things that happens in the village, but she does not renounce these things. She
just provides a Godly example by not drinking with rest of the village, and not losing her
temper at Kiriak when he beats his wife.
She not only has this constant great attitude, it seems to pass over to others. One
of the examples of who this happens to is in the aftermath of the fire. She has a nice
attitude towards those who fought the fire that it passes over to Osip who when asked
about religion replies Who knows anything about it? (Chekov 66). After the fire Osip
thanks God. A man with no need or care for religion praying to God is something out of
the ordinary. In the heat of the moment he feels it is the right thing to do after noticing
Olga s attitude.
Olga also makes an imprint on visitors to the hut. She seems to turn every
conversation into the religion that is an outline of her life. While she is showing off her
daughter the the guests she has Sasha read from the Bible. These people of course were
limited by funds and probably don t have many books, but Olga relates even the simplest
thing to her faith. A child reading to a crowd is one of the world s simple gifts and for
Olga its a great time to throw some scripture at the guests. When the reading ended, the
visitors dispersed to their homes, deeply touched, and pleased with Olga and Sasha.
(Chekov 51). It also helped that the reading was about Jesus and it made Olga very
emotional, which passed over to the visitors.
Olga uses her faith as a tool for comfort also. When Kiriak beats Marya, Olga does
not yell at Kiriak. She does not push her bible in his face and point him to a verse about
husbands. She does not point the finger and say you are bad. What she does is submits to
Kiriak by not saying anything and goes to comfort Marya. Even though Mary is illiterate
when it comes to the Bible, Olga does not treat her like a lost cause. She comforts her
with a verse …In the Bible it is written, Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek,
turn to him the other also. (Chekov 48). What she is literally telling Marya is to take
another hit in the face from her husband. What Olga really means by this is that Marya
needs to have a softer attitude and not be so hateful and revengeful, but to bear the pain
instead. Marya also is comforted by Olga and the bible when she talks about how her
mother yells at her for eating too much.
Olga s hope and strength seem to also bring forth a respect from everyone. Even
though nobody in her family besides her daughter and husband knew what religion to Olga
really is, she still showed them in her daily life. The family and villagers did not understand
but they loved Olga reading to them from the Bible. …when Olga read aloud the Gospel
she was treated with respect… (Chekov 67).
Olga has a servants heart and it is shown by her actions. Even though the people of
the community and her family do not seem to want to hear it, she humbly shows them
what they need in her life by her actions. She is calm and cool through the whole story.
The only part that does not seem right is that she had no real reactions to her husband s
death. She knew it was coming but there should still be an emotional reaction. It is good
to mourn when saddened, but bad to mourn too much. To not mourn at all makes a
person wonder many things. Did she love her husband? Did she not care that he died?
Didn t his death rip her apart? Yes it did. Her physical features changed completely after
Nikolai died. She was dying inside with her emotions. Through not showing her feelings
and other emotions about her husband it goes back to her comfort with Marya, that one
must bear the pain they are feeling.
Even when Olga s emotions are completely torn to shreds inside of her from her
husband s death, she still shows her strength. She does not let past events get her down.
She is strong and hopeful for what will happen to her and her daughter in the future. The
village they lived in for that time is forgotten, but events from the time they were there are
remembered. Olga moves on to better things. It is very reminiscent of a pastor leaving a
church community he or she has been with for a period of time to go to a new one to give
the same message and show the same attitude towards life. They are moved with hopes for
the future to be a better place than where they have been, but yet always remembering.
Olga and Sasha are like a pastor moving to guide more people, to be a sheperd to
them. To guide by example in their religion. Olga has hope for the future she will have and
has strength from her religion to comfort and guide just as she did in her late husband s